Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Do you feel helpless at times with everything that is happening in the world and in this country? Do you sometimes think that all “is going to the dogs?” Do you wonder what’s going to happen to your life, the lives of your children, and/or the lives of your grandchildren? I do. These are not happy, joyous and free times.

Personally, I get angry when I think about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how much oil has spilled into the waters. It has to be millions of gallons. I see the wild life – birds, turtles, dolphins, fish, and other creatures of God whose lives are being threatened, whose species is being potentially exterminated, by this man-made disaster. I hear of entire industries that are being disastrously affected, so much so that such industries may never come back. And then I think that those leading the fight to correct the situation represent one of the largest, wealthiest world corporations and the most powerful government this world has ever known, and neither one can bring the situation under control until the damage is even more severe. What’s happening? The ultimate results are fearful.

Personally, our retirement funds are extremely dependent on the vagaries of the stock market. Although our retirement fund is not large, its potential erosion could decimate our simple style of living. Yes, much of the value has returned. Yet, the roller coaster ride of the stock markets certainly makes us nervous. It sometimes makes me fearful.

Then there is the economy. We are not affected greatly by it, but there are many I know who are. They are happy just to have employment. They are even happier if their employment includes health benefits. Anyone looking for employment knows that there are a multitude of people, along with them, who have applied for a position. If it wasn’t necessary before, it is necessary now that both parents work. Homes are being foreclosed. Automobiles are being repossessed. In Southern Washington County, around the Jonesborough area, 20% of the children live below the sustainable living line. Many of these children are hungry during the summer because school is not in session. We are fearful for the next generation of children.

In the middle of all this, where is the church? Some denominations are facing severe issues that affect relationships with parishioners. Others have theological issues that drive a wedge into unity. Then there are well known leaders who have betrayed those who follow them. Many of the populace challenge church authority. Many have become disenchanted with religious organizations and the worship services they provide. Where does one go at times of helplessness and fear?

I am sure there are many more examples I could list. I haven’t even mentioned that this country is fighting two wars. I haven’t discussed the everyday vagaries, or powers, of this world: disease, illness, and relational difficulties. Fear can rule our hearts, and there are those who would take advantage of this in many ways.

Where is God in all this?

It’s a good question. I don’t have a complete answer. I know this, I just can’t face people and say, “Just believe in God and everything will be okay.” That’s not an adequate answer.

Reading scripture, whether it is the gospels or the letters of Paul, Peter, and John, I find no easy answer, either. I could quote various passages, but they are difficult to hear when one is struggling. I do know from scripture that “faith drives out fear.” Our faith in the Triune God, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, gives us something to hang on to. After all, if life is about God and not about me, then I begin to realize that God is in charge, not me.

I have also asked myself under difficult circumstances, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” If the answer has to do with what I want versus what I need, I begin to see the problem. Whether God “knows better” or whether God will see me through whatever predicament I am experiencing, I need to have faith that this is God’s world and that he loves me. With this as my anchor, fear can be driven out, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, it is an issue of trust in God. My responsibility is to live the day that God has given me, seeking knowledge of his will for me and the power to carry it out.

As we face life on life’s terms, I believe the blessings of Christ creating the church, the body of Christ, can be experienced. When we are physically alone, it is not difficult to imagine or believe that we are also spiritually alone. Through fellowship and sharing, we find that God’s love comes to us through other people. We don’t even need to share our specific concerns. The love of God demonstrated by others can strengthen us on our human journey.

We are also called to share our love with others. We are called to be in fellowship with others, not for our benefit, but to sacrificially serve others in need. When we do this, being reminded that Christ lives within us; we have an opportunity to see what God sees. We have the opportunity to use our “hands” for God’s work.

Living life on life’s terms is simple, but it is not easy.

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